I rarely share recipes in this space (should I share more recipes in this space?), but I have to tell you guys about my new most favorite flavor ever: walnut oil vinaigrette. It’s stupendous, and only has three simple ingredients. We found it in a cookbook Gourmet put out decades ago, a volume dedicated to French cuisine. The recipe was simple, but felt magical: one head of red leaf lettuce is washed and torn into small pieces, then tossed with a few tablespoons of vinaigrette, and served with warm bread. Boom.
I usually make my own vinaigrette in a more haphazard way, and never use the allotted proportions because I prefer my dressing on the very acidic side. But I promise that this recipe, followed precisely, will yield the most luscious, silky, tangy, nutty vinaigrette imaginable. I’m obsessed with it.
Walnut oil vinaigrette. Whisk 1 tablespoon of good sherry vinegar with 1 teaspoon French Dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of walnut oil, until emulsified and thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with half a head of red leaf lettuce, hand-torn into bite-sized pieces. I also added a few tablespoons of crumbled feta, and two roasted beets, sliced into medallions (so you can see the pretty spirals, of course). I broiled some day-old baguette dressed in olive oil and rubbed with garlic for quick croutons. Don’t you love how the beets made everything in the salad bright pink?
Crispy zucchini with tarragon. We bought these irresistible baby squash from the Birri boys at the Jean-Talon market. I sliced them lengthwise on the mandoline, and made a quick marinade with grapeseed oil, lemon, salt and pepper. We threw them on a hot grill and they did the most miraculous thing — they dehydrated, into crispy, tender chips. I tried imagining that I was eating french fries. It almost worked. We ate these with extra olive oil and fresh leaves of tarragon.
French puy lentils with caramelized onions + thyme. I sauteed one chopped white onion on low heat in butter until golden and sticky, then added a small bowl full of (washed, picked over) lentils. Add sprigs thyme, pinch red pepper flakes, and cover with chicken stock and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, until tender. Drain and add 4 tablespoons finely minced parsley.
Shaved raw fennel salad. I sliced half a bulb of fennel on a mandoline and let marinate in a bit of red wine vinegar. Crunchy and perfect.
[One final self-promotional note. My lengthy interview with the remarkable percussionist and composer Jon Mueller is in the latest issue of Paris Transatlantic. I met him earlier this year in Montreal, and I was so taken with him. Read if you wish!]